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Backpacking - Boys Planning The Menu

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I must have missed the memo that says when the boys are planning their menus for backpacking, they have to eat the easiest stuff they can get their hands on. I wonder how to help them incorporate some challenge into their menu without making them feel like their mother has taken over.




Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal

Lunch: Cup O' Noodles

Dinner: Top Ramen

Snack: Trail Mix

On the Trail Snack: Powerbars X 4


Sure, it's functional but geez where is the challenge in THAT menu?

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They probably went that route because they don't know what's available.


For backpacking you wouldn't want stuff that is already wet. So look at dried foods. Also, when I'm already toting 30 lbs of gear and 6 lbs of water, I don't want to complex cooking gear and and heavy food.


Jerky for breakfast makes a nice addition. Possibly a bag of dry pack tuna with lunch or cut up slim jims into the noodles.


Dinner has a host of options. There are all sorts of dishes with meat and noodles or rice. You don't have to buy the expensive meals at the camping store. Look in the supermarket at Zataran's and similar products.


Give them options and let them choose.


(This message has been edited by Gold Winger)

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Yeah mea... see, that's a good point - one our ASM has tried to show by example. She dehyrdrates meat sauce for spaghetti and makes her own jerky and dried fruits & veggies and stew stuff to add to noodles and gravies and all kinds of yummy menu items. She offers that dehydrater to anyone in the unit to use. So the boys most definitely do have the option of the harder to prepare, yet more nutritious meals for backpacking.


GW These boys know what's available! That's probably the biggest reason I am frustrated. I've even given them tons of ideas for lightweight backpacking menu items! I gave them a 2-page reference list. They STILL came up with the easy, cheezy and breezy crap to eat!


They constantly take the easy way out on menu planning. Drives me nuts. I wonder if I should buy up all the ramen and cup o' noodles in our local store, then offer to drive the troop shopper/grubmaster for that campout to the store myself.


Ooops, they don't have A or B in stock, looks like you have to go with Variety C instead! LOL I don't know... teenagers are definitely teenagers!(This message has been edited by Joni4TA)

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Couple options here. Maybe ask the PLC to pass a rule that dinner has to be a "meal". You can figure out the parameters.


Make it a contest. Every outing has a cooking contest with points accumulated through the year and at the end, the winning patrol gets a golden spoon for their patrol flag and dinner at Pizza Hut.


One thing to remember. They are boys. Boys only really want interesting food if they don't have to prepare it. Otherwise they can live on ramen and hot dogs for years.



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Adults by example, we have some pretty awesome meals on the trail, and then we share a little with a few of the scouts to whet their appetite. We've done meal contests now and then, winner doesn't have to do dishes, and we've done some skillbases on meal planning, cooking, etc...



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That menu sounds very similar to what we ate every day at Philmont!


My pet peeve on backpacking menus is the scouts going out and just buying Mountain House freeze dried meals instead of putting their own together.


I don't expect them to dehydrate their own foods or be trail gourmets, but at least put a little effort into it.


Lots of stuff available at the local grocery store that can be combined into a great hearty meal. Minute rice or instant mash potatoes, a packet of dry chicken gravy, a packet of vacuum packed tuna or chicken. Dried apricots or mangoes for dessert. Man, my mouth is watering already!

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That menu looks OK to me for backpacking. Kids don't crave flavor like adults so variety is not important to them. Maybe it's a little light on calories so they may want to review and see if they have a minimum of 2500 calories per day per scout (consult book for recommended value for age and weight). With all the hiking they will likely go calorie negative for a few days but if its a short trip of less than five days they will be OK.


Most of my young scouts 12 and under won't even eat a beef stew. My own second class scout orders pasta with no sauce. Highly seasoned food is avoided at all cost. The peanut butter sandwich is the base back-up food for all scouts.


I wouldn't burden the scouts with overly challenging menus that they don't want and won't eat. Backpacking meals are different, they are sustenance eating as the wilderness experience is the center stage. Also big fancy meals means more food, more pots, more fuel and more clean-up. This all adds to more weight and expanded meal times.







(This message has been edited by Its Me)

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My son and several other boys are working on the backpacking MB. We've done two treks so far. Here's their meals.


Breakfast-oatmeal, hot chocolate, dried fruit

lunch-tuna packets, cheese, party rye bread, jerky etc.

Dinner-Bear Creek "darn good Chili" The chili is dehydrated and very easy to prepare. We add macaroni noodles and cut up beef or sausage.


On our next trek, we're going to break them up into groups of three and each group will plan and make their meals.


Especially if your scouts are going for the MB, they should be making some meals, not just opening packs and eating them. Use of ovens, prepping water, safe, LNT cleanup and stuff like that is part of the badge.


Plus that, at the end of the trail, you can't beat a good hot meal. Burning the calories that they do on the trail, your boys will need far more protein than they get from Ramen Noodles. Maybe a refresher on proper eating habits might be in order too.


Good luck

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Backpacking is the one area where we threw the "patrol method" out the window wrt meals. Each backpacker carried his own meals. Some (mostly adults) found it worthwhile to carry more sumptuous meals and others did not. Just like the decision on whether or not to bring a small lightweight stool is an individual decision, meals are in the same category. A 220 lb man needs a lot more calories than a 105 lb 12 year old.


P.S. Philmont meals are great but generate so much trash it is ridiculous!(This message has been edited by acco40)

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" Also big fancy meals means more food, more pots, more fuel and more clean-up."


Not really. I am a big fan of cooking in "roasting bags." Put the ingredients into the bag, mix well and either add boiling water and let steep or or plop the bag into the boiling water to cook. Either way, you only have a dirty bag which can be closed up and packed out with the rest of the trash and no pots to wash.


We avoid cleaning our eating cups by "sumping" them. I don't know if this is a common practice but it was foreign to a boy who joined us from another troop that does a lot of hiking. After you are finished eating, add a small amount of hot water to your cup and swish it around to get all the food to the bottom. Drink the water. Repeat until cup is clean. For the next meal, we sanitize the cups by dunking in the boiling water.


"Philmont meals are great but generate so much trash it is ridiculous!"

My only experiences have been with Philmont style meals because that's what the troop tends to use. All the meal trash from 8 to 10 people usually fits into a 1 gallon sip lock with room to spare. Unfortunately, it can't be burned or buried so we have to tote it out. Every know and then we come across a ranger with a truck who'll take it for us and then we rejoice.


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We just had a backpacking trip this weekend. Guys tried something new. Monday night before the trip, they went over what to bring and planned menus.


Friday night we had a lock-in at the church so we could leave early Saturday morning for the trip. After the guys inspected each other's backpacks, we took them all to the grocery store to buy what they needed for their meals. This worked out very well. They picked up the standard ramen noodles for lunch, but also foil packs of chicken which they added to the noodles. Rice mixes and chicken or spam for dinner. Spam was also fried it up to go with their instant oatmeal/instant grits for Sunday breakfast. Also along for meals were snack pack fruit cups, granola bars, flavored teas/hot chocolate, trail mix, jerky. Very well planned menus I thought.


Best part about the trip is that these guys are beginning to want to do more backpack camping and less car/trailer camping.


Joni, for our guys the main focus is lot's of hot filling food to eat and little to no cleanup. So, ramen/cup o' noodles makes the list every time, but they do add the foil-packed chicken. Instant oatmeal - did you know you can pour hot water directly into an oatmeal packet and not have to dirty a bowl?


As others have posted, patrol cooking contests are an excellent way to get your guys thinking for creatively.


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